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* No 1 through the boundless fields of space
And at the word, his pinions bright
To regions of eternal light—
CURIOSITIES OF CIIRISTENINGS.
I HoPE that the very fashionable folks of the West End in general, and the members of Peerage in particular, are blessed with memories of the most tenacious description;–verily, if they wish to remember their own Christian names, they must either be so provided, or carry about with them a memorandum-book, from which to copy their multitudinous nomenclature whenever a signature happens to be required. The members of “society,” as “society” understands the term, may be but few, but their names are legion. I should reckon on the average one man or woman to half-a-dozen appellations—a compound chain of Maria-WilhelminaJuliana-IIelena-Rosa-Matildas, or Augustus-Philip-George-AlbertMaurice-Fredericks. Really this is hardly fair upon the alphabet; it is making every letter do double duty, besides subjecting those high-minded and independent gentlemen who pass their lives in reverential study of the Peerage and the Court Guide—probably bound up together like the Bible and the Testament—to very painful and puzzling feats of memory, and the occasional terrific blunder of substituting a Gloriana for a Gloriosa in making out the catalogue of a duchess's appellations,
It is evident, however, that the aristocracy, like Miss Carolina Wilhelmina Amelia Skeggs, believe that they soar into distinction by the length of their nomenclatures. They rely upon a string of patronymics, as a kite does upon a tail of twisted papers. They can't get aloft without it. Instead of making names remarkable by connecting them with achievements of genius, our hereditary rulers have adopted the far easier plan of rendering them famous by adding to their length. It is convenient and not laborious. Besides, there is something eminently aristocratic in names of “linked sweetness long drawn out.” They appear to shadow forth the exclusiveness of their possessor—the difficulty of getting at him. As Mr. Tony Lumpkin has justly and acutely remarked, that the cream of a correspondence is generally to be found in the inside of a letter, so the cream, the kernel, so to speak, of a man's name, is generally to be found in the last word thereof: it is the citadel of the garrison. But we ought not of course to approach too suddenly and irreverently the high-born human sanctum sanctorum. One shrinks, even in reading, with an - instinctive horror, from coming with a giddy hop-step-and-jump into the very presence, check by jowl as it were, with a live prince's name. We must approach by degrees. We must walk discreetly up an avenue of designative syllables ere we arrive at the dread letters which announce the absolute identification of their lord and master. These I take to be very good reasons for the extraordinary cable-like string of names which I every now and then observe by the newspapers to be bestowed upon some poor little oppressed and diminutive Christian. But many other arguments might be adduced in favour of the practice. For example, it is quite requisite that the folks of the Arabia Felix of the West End should be distinguished as much as may be from the natives of the Arabia Petraea of the East. You would not, surely, have the same sort of names in the Court Guide as you have in the Trades’ Directory. It would be like putting porcelain and earthenware in the same category. No, no ; the leaders of the Horse Guards are one thing, and of the blackguards another. How then to distinguish the Lord Tom Noddys and the Lord Batemans of the square, from the Higginses and the Browns of the lane? Formerly, when the wisdom of our ancestors had attained its highest pitch of development, it could easily have been done. Noddy, for example, would call Higgins a “misbegotten knave,” and whip his lance through him. Bateman would incontinently order Brown into the “deepest dungeon below the castle moat,” after which the two barons would walk off arm in arm, or fall to and cut each other's throats, just as they happened to be in the humour. There was no question then of which was the noble and which was the people—“which was the lion and which was the dog.” But times are changed Even costume has become assimilated. Brown's tailor may be Bateman's tailor, and Higgins gets his boots made by Noddy's artist. Furthermore, Brown and IIiggins are probably just as highly accomplished as Bateman and Noddy;
they look quite as respectable. You may meet all four in an
accident of the Thames instead of the Jordan flowing under London Bridge—but half-baptised, or indeed not baptised at all to speak of-wandering into the world like engravings—portraits, it may be, of their dear parents—but unfinished—unnamed—“before the letters.” Teally, this is a terrible contingency. People are inoculated every seven years. Why might they not be re-baptised on the same principle?—that is to say, with Jordan water of course— obtained pure and direct from the stream, just as we now and then go back for vaccination matter to its original and genuine source— the Cow !
Two things, at all events, are evident. Our illustrious nobility must not only have extraordinary names—but an extraordinary mode of tacking them on. Both facts are feathers in their caps. There is no accounting for taste. I, for my part, would prefer a different plume—but it is not for me to grumble should a nobleman determine upon the biographical sketch of his life (including all the important and honouring incidents) running thus—“IIe was born—ate—drank—slept, and died—had eight names, and was claristened with water from the Jordan.”
ANGUs B. REACII.
It would seem as if, among other unhappy persons, whose cause is now to come to a new hearing, and whose place in the world is to be arranged on other principles than the “wisdom of our forefathers,” the Man of Letters, or the Man of Imagination —or (to use a still more comprehensive phrase) the Artist as distinguished from the Operative—is beginning to excite the attention of Society. The notion is growing, that he is, somehow or other, placed amiss; has wrongs which claim redress—an existence to which its due support is denied. The case has been one so long before me, that I am not suiting myself to a whim of philanthropic Fashion, but merely availing myself of an opportunity to bestow my hoarded tediousness upon ears willing to hear—in offering a few words to my brethren in particular, and the world in general.
I have said, the Artist as distinguished from the Operative, because it has been the humour of some who ought to have known better to confound the two. The Man of Imagination labours, ’tis true ; but his first desire is the indulgence of his own yearnings, not the pay of his employer or customer, which last must with the Man of Trade be the primum mobile. And I will hold that—after all differences in the rate of pay have been allowed for—an Inventor has fiftyfold more reward than the drudge who works out his inventions. He has indulged his fancy, and to do this remains his greatest need, till the World's wants or the World's wisdom have taught him another lesson. Yet let him not speak contemptuously of those whose part in Life and Duty is merely mechanical —whose days are more monotonously spent—whose deeds make a less picturesque show than his. The two classes are not so far apart as the Exclusive dream. Their common origin, however, will never be heartily acknowledged, till the one shall cease to strive for the heritage of the other: the Artist—that is—to be consumed by the \loney-maker's desires, the Money-maker (which is the rarer case) to entertain a notion of being his own sculptor or architect —his own Claude or Tossini. If the Flowers and the Ileaves said to the Stems and the Branches—“Go to, men shall build their ships with us, not you !”—would not the Winds be filled with laughter :
Truce to rhapsody, however ! If there was ever a case from the discussion of which “fine language" should be excluded (this comprehending birdinase, appeal to feeling ; all, in short, that perplexes the object by exhibiting it under false and partial lights), it is this. What is it that we all desire 2 The happiness of the Man of Genius: his free use of his powers: his right place in society:— a happy youth for him—an active manhood—a serene time of retirement. So far as regards the case laid before the Public, the bewailers have hitherto had their own way. No one, worth listening to, has defended the condition of neglect, enthralment, and difficulty in which the Poet's life has been past, till sorrow has become proverbially attached to his name. No one, save the most rigid of Puritans (and even he, somewhere or other, has made the exception—opened the door—admitted the grace) has in essence questioned the use and blessing of Genius to Mankind. The question has been, of what use Mankind can be in return—the manner of blessings of which the lot of Genius is susceptible %
It will be found that one and the same cure for the sorrows.